Tantalus and Tethys

Tantalus, by Gioacchino Assereto, 1630s–40s

Tantalus (Tantalos) is a son of Zeus, great-grandpap of Agamemnon and Menelaus, and possibly a real historical figure. He was the ruler of an Anatolian city named Tantalis, Tantalos, or Sipytos. A port was named for him, and the city had a fairly well-known sepulchre of him.

Tantalus is claimed as Phrygian, sometimes the King of Phrygia, though his city was in the western part of Anatolia, where the kingdom of Lydia emerged. Since his son Pelops is called Pelops the Lydian, Tantalus may have belonged to a pre-kingdom royal family of Lydia.

Like the ungrateful Ixion, Tantalus too was invited to Zeus’s table by Mount Olympus. Tantalus wasn’t a very good guest, and stole the immortality-granting ambrosia. He brought it back to his people, and revealed the deities’ secrets.

Le Festin Donné aux Dieux par Tantale, Hugues Taraval, 1767

His misbehaviour didn’t end there. Tantalus sacrificed his own son Pelops, cutting him up and boiling him, and served him by a banquet for the deities. The Divine attendees found out just what was on the menu, and refused to touch it. Demeter, however, was so distraught over the loss of her daughter Persephone, she absentmindedly ate part of the shoulder.

Clotho, one of the Fates, resurrected Pelops on orders from Zeus. She collected the body parts and boiled them in a sacred cauldron, and rebuilt the shoulder with an ivory replacement made by Hephaestus and presented by Demeter. Pelops grew up to be very handsome, and Poseidon taught him how to use chariots. Sadly, Zeus punished him for the sins of his father, and kicked him out of Olympus.

Tantalus was forced to stand in a pool of water under a fruit tree with low-hanging branches. When he tried to pick fruit, the branches moved away from his grasp. Likewise, when he knelt to take a drink, the water receded. A threatening stone towered above his head.

In another version, Tantalus was blamed for stealing a golden dog Hesphaestus made to watch over the infant Zeus, who was hiding from his father Kronos. Tantalus’s friend Pandareus had really stolen the dog and given it to him for safekeeping, but when Pandareus asked him to return it, Tantalus denied he either had it or had seen it. Other versions depict Tantalus as the one who stole the dog and gave it to Pandareus.

Tantalus may be derived from Talantalos, “who has to bear much.” It’s related to talas, “wretched.” The English word “tantalize/tantalise” comes from his name.

Copyright Bernard Gagnon

Tethys is a Titan, the daughter of Gaia and Uranus, wife and sister of Titan Oceanus (Divine personification of the sea), and mother of the 3,000 river gods and the 3,000 Oceanid sea nymphs. Mythology obviously doesn’t operate under the normal scientific facts of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth!

According to one tradition, Tethys and Oceanus, not Gaia and Uranus, are the parents of the Titans. This may, however, be a misunderstanding of context and intent. Oceanus possibly was referred to as “from whom the gods are sprung” on account of how many river gods he sired, and Tethys may have been called “mother” due to her role as Hera’s foster mother.

Copyright Nevit Dilmen, GFDL, Creative Commons CC-BY 2.5

While Zeus was overthrowing his father Kronos, his mother Rhea took Hera to Tethys and Oceanus for safekeeping. They were very loving, attentive foster parents. Later on, Hera helped to reconcile the couple after an argument and resulting cessation of sexual relations.

Out of love for Hera, Tethys forbade the nymph Callisto (yet another of Zeus’s conquests) from touching the ocean after she was turned into a bear and placed in the sky as the constellation Ursa Major. This constellation never sets below the horizon.

One of Saturn’s moons, discovered in 1684, is named after Tethys.

Tethys is derived from tethe, “grandmother.” Other sources, however, believe her name was derived from that of the Mesopotamian goddess Tiamat, due to parallels between their stories. Tiamat possibly is derived from the Greek and Akkadian words for “sea,” and a cognate of the Northwest Semitic word tehom (the deeps, abyss). Tethys was identified with the sea, and her name was used as a poetic term for it.

These names are going to the birds!

We’re probably all familiar with bird names like Robin and Lark, but what about some of the lesser-used bird names?

Unisex:

Agpa means “thick-billed Murre” (a type of bird) in Greenlandic.

Alaryn means “bird” in Welsh. This was more commonly used than Aderyn in the mid-20th century, during heavy immigration in the U.K.

Chim means “bird” in Vietnamese.

Jiguur means “bird” in Mongolian.

Manu means “bird” in Maori and Hawaiian.

Palila is the name of a bird in Hawaiian, Tahitian, and Polynesian.

Tairo means “little bird” in Arabic.

Tori means “bird” in Japanese.

Tui is a type of Maori bird.

Tziquin means “bird” in Tzeltal and Quiche-Kaqchikel.

Vireo is a type of U.S. bird.

Yonah means “dove” in Hebrew.

Female:

Aderyn means “bird” in Welsh. This is contemporary, not traditional.

Aëdon may mean “nightingale” in Greek.

Aerope may derive from an Ancient Greek word for the bee-eater bird.

Aghavni means “dove” in Armenian. I love this name.

Ainara means “swallow (bird)” in Basque.

Alondra means “lark” in Spanish.

Andlib, or Andleeb, means “nightingale” in Persian.

Asuka is a Japanese name which is composed of the elements asu (“to fly” or “tomorrow”) and ka (bird). Many other meanings are also possible.

Aquila means “eagle” in Latin. The Russian form is Akilina.

Balbala means “nightingale” in Pashto.

Chipeta means “white singing bird” in Ute.

Cholena means “bird” in Lenape.

Columba means “dove” in Latin.

Deryn possibly comes from Aderyn, with the same meaning.

Durna means “crane (bird)” in Azeri.

Elaia means “swallow (bird)” in Basque.

Enara means “swallow (bird)” in Basque.

Faigel means “bird” in Yiddish. Other forms include Faiga and Faigie. Beyond my frequent dislike of many Yiddish names, I’m not fond of this one because it looks too much like a certain homophobic slur. As a matter of fact, the diminutive form Faigeleh is indeed slang for a gay man!

Homa is a phoenix-like bird in Persian mythology. An alternate form is Huma.

Inyoni means “bird” in Zulu.

‘Iwalani means “heavenly frigate bird” or “heavenly man-of-war bird” in Hawaiian.

Karawek means “bird” in Thai.

Karlygash means “swallow (bird)” in Kazakh.

Kasika means “bird” in Thai.

Kayäkki means “bird” in Chuvash, a native Siberian language.

Kiya means “cooing of a bird” in Sanskrit.

Kría is a type of Icelandic bird.

Lóa means “golden plover” in Icelandic and Faroese.

Lushanya may mean “songbird” in Chickasaw.

Oanh means “oriole” in Vietnamese.

Paloma means “dove, pigeon” in Spanish.

Parastou means “swallow (bird)” in Persian.

Pëllumb means “dove” in Albanian.

Prinia is the Javanese word for a type of bird.

Sacagawea may mean “bird woman” in Hidatsa.

Sarika means “myna bird” in Sanskrit.

Seelasat means “oriole” in Vainakhish, an extinct language of North Transcaucasia.

Shakuntala means “bird” in Sanskrit.

Simurg means “eagle bird” in Pahlavi. This was a monstrous bird in Persian mythology.

Svala means “swallow (bird)” in the Scandinavian languages.

Toiba means “dove” in Yiddish.

Tsubame can mean “swallow (bird)” in Japanese.

Tzipporah means “bird” in Hebrew. Other spellings include Zipporah, Tziporah, Tzipora, Tsippora, Tsipora, Cipora, and Cippóra.

Tzufit means “hummingbird” in Hebrew.

Ulara means “snowcock” in Kyrgyz.

Usoa means “dove” in Basque. The name Uxue is etymologically related.

Yemima means “dove” in Hebrew. The popular Anglicization is Jemima.

Zarka means “crane (bird)” in Pashto.

Zitkala means “bird” in Sioux.

Male:

Andor means “Thor’s eagle” in Norwegian.

Anzu was a Mesopotamian demon depicted in the form of a lion-headed eagle or a huge bird breathing water and fire.

Arnkætill means “bird helmet” in Old Norse.

Colum means “dove” in Old Irish.

Dalbar means “chick (baby bird)” in Yakut, a native Siberian language.

Dalbaray means “white bird” in Yakut.

Énna possibly means “bird-like” in Irish.

Jonah is the English form of Yonah, and a male-only name. Other forms include Jonas (Dutch, German, and Scandinavian, and the name of the heroic Dr. Jonas Salk), Giona (Italian), Yunus (Arabic and Turkish), Jonáš (Czech and Slovak), Iona (Russian and Georgian), Jónas (Icelandic), Joona and Joonas (Finnish), Jona (Serbian and Croatian), Jónás (Hungarian), Jonás (Spanish), Jonass (Latvian), and Jonasz (Polish).

Kaur means “loon (bird)” in Estonian.

Mochni means “talking bird” in Hopi.

Nenaa’angebi means “beautifying bird” in Ojibwe.

Örn means “eagle” in Icelandic, Swedish, and Old Norse.

Orneus may mean “bird, chicken” in Greek.

Ornytos may be etymologically related to the Greek word ornis (bird, chicken).

Pungat means “bird” in Nivkh, an indigenous language in Russia and Japan.

Quetzun is a Guatemalan name referring to a type of bird.

Sibaguchu means “birdman” in Mongolian.

Stari means “starling (bird)” in Old Norse.

Tayfur may mean “bird” in Bashkir.

Þrǫstr means “thrush (bird)” in Old Norse.

The many forms of Cecilia

Cecilia is one of my favoritest female names, the name I’ll use if I ever have a potential second daughter. I’ll be naming my first potential daughter Anastasiya Alice, but if there’s a #2, her name will be Cecilia Echo. My love for this name is due in large part to how that was the name of my third journal, whom I kept from 4 October 1993–25 January 1996. Cecilia remains my dearest journal, due to everything I went through when I was writing in her. I named her after the song.

Cecilia does mean “blind,” but it has such a beautiful sound, and St. Cecilia is the patron saint of music and musicians. Originally, the spelling Cecily was used after the Normans brought it to England. The Latinate spelling Cecilia came into popular use in the 18th century.

This spelling is used in English, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Finnish, and the Scandinavian languages. The Hungarian, Slovak, and Portuguese version is Cecília, and the Icelandic version is Cecilía. Other forms include:

1. Cécile is French and Dutch.

2. Cecilie is Czech, Norwegian, and Danish. The last two vowels are pronounced separately, not together.

3. Caecilia is German, and the original Latin form. This spelling makes me think of caecilians, an aquatic amphibian that looks like a big worm. Some people keep them as pets. It’d be really cool on someone who keeps caecilians!

4. Cäcilie is German.

5. Cäcilia is another German form.

6. Sìleas is Scottish.

7. Cecylia is Polish.

8. Cecilija is Slovenian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Croatian.

9. Tsetsiliya is Russian. As much as I adore Russian names, this just looks weird written out. It also calls to mind tsetse flies.

10. Síle is Irish. The most common Anglicization is Sheila.

11. Aziliz is Breton.

12. Cecía is Galician.

13. Kaikilia is Greek.

14. Kikilia is Hawaiian.

15. Kikil is Manx.

16. Icía is another Galician form.

17. Koikille is Basque.

18. Seljo is Sami, a native Siberian language.

19. Sesili is Georgian.

20. Sesselja is a lesser-used Icelandic form.

21. Tsetsilia is Georgian. I feel about this spelling the same way I do about the almost-identical Russian spelling.

22. Xixili is a rare Basque form.

23. Zëss is Luxembourgish.

24. Zezili is another Basque form.

25. Zezilia is Medieval Basque.

26. Zezilli is yet another Basque form.

The many forms of Timothy

Timothy has always been one of my favoritest male names. I’ve never understood why some people deride this name as wimpy or nerdy. It’s such a timeless classic, and one of those great universal names which translates into so many diverse languages and cultures.

These are some of the other versions of the name:

1. Timót is Hungarian.

2. Timothée is French. An alternate form is Timothé.

3. Timotei is Romanian.

4. Timotey is Bulgarian.

5. Timofey is Russian.

6. Tymoteusz is Polish.

7. Timoteo is Italian, Spanish, Catalan, and Portuguese.

8. Timotej is Slovenian, Macedonian, Serbian, Czech, and Slovak.

9. Timotheus is Dutch and German. Besides Tim, the common diminutive form is Timo.

10. Timoti is Maori.

11. Timofiy is Ukrainian.

12. Timote is Georgian.

13. Timotius is Indonesian.

14. Timoteus is Scandinavian and Finnish, The alternate form Timóteus is Icelandic.

15. Timotije is Croatian.

16. Timmu is Estonian.

17. Timotiejus is Lithuanian.

18. Timoteu is Galician.

19. Kimokeo is Hawaiian.

20. Timotejs is Latvian.

21. Timothea is a feminine form, of Greek origin.

22. Timótea is the Hungarian feminine form. The alternate form Timotea is Italian and Spanish.

The many forms of David

David is a perennially-popular classic, working so well on all ages and types of guys. It’s never been tied to any one generation, and can’t be stereotyped as belonging to one particular personality type since it’s so widely-used. There are also some feminine forms of this name.

1. David is Hebrew in origin, meaning “belovèd.” It’s also used in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Macedonian, Scottish, Czech, the Scandinavian languages, Slovenian, Russian, Dutch, Serbian, and Croatian. The alternate form Dávid is Hungarian and Slovak.

2. Davit is Georgian, and the name of one of Georgia’s greatest kings, Davit the Builder.

3. Daud is Indonesian and a variant Arabic transliteration.

4. Dawud is the more common Arabic transliteration. Dawood is also used.

5. Dafydd is Welsh. Nicknames are TaffyDeio, and Dai.

6. Dàibhidh is the native Scottish spelling. A rarer spelling is Daividh.

7. Davide is Italian.

8. Davud is Persian. An alternate transliteration is Davoud.

9. Taavi is Estonian and Finnish. An alternate form is Taavet.

10. Tavit is Armenian.

11. Kawika is Hawaiian.

12. Dovydas is Lithuanian. Davydas is an alternate form.

13. Dovid is Yiddish. An alternative form is Duvid.

14. Daibhead is Irish.

15. Dávið is Faroese. The Icelandic variation is Davíð.

16. Daavi is Greenlandic.

17. Daví is Catalan.

18. Dāvids is Latvian. The nickname is Dāvis.

19. Davido is Esperanto.

20. Dävu is Swiss–German.

21. Davut is Turkish.

22. Dávved is Sami, a native Siberian language.

23. Davyd is Ukrainian.

24. Dawie is Afrikaans.

25. Dawit is Bashkir.

26. Dawei is Chinese.

27. Devassy is Malay.

28. Devi is Breton.

29. Tavita is Tongan.

30. Dawid is Polish.

Feminine forms:

1. Davida is Hebrew, Italian, and English.

2. Davina is Scottish. This is the name of one of my favorite secondary characters, a very annoying grandma and stepgrandma with a shocking secret in her past.

3. Dawida is Polish.

4. Davita is Dutch and English.